Just got home from seeing Obama at the Universal Amphitheater. Was looking for a diary on it, and I can't find one, so guess it's up to me.
Let me just start off by saying, this event was fun. I don't normally think of political rallies as fun. They're informational and can be motivating or inspiring, but fun? Eh, not really.
In fact, the first time I saw Obama was in Crenshaw last spring. Now, that was pretty much like a typical political rally. This time, it was a rock concert. Literally.
Getting to the event was pretty painless, which was surprising, L.A. being the traffic capital of the world with sucky if not non-existent public transportation. I left my office in Westwood at 4PM, expecting to arrive late to the opening of the doors at 6PM. But, with a brief side trip to pick up my sister whose office is less than a mile away from Universal Studios, we arrived at 5:30PM. Not bad for L.A.
There was a long line already formed, and we wondered how the heck this was going to work, since everyone had to pick up their tickets at will call. But it worked out fine. They had (as I expected and hoped) tables set up alphabetically to keep the line moving.
We had VIP tickets (which you could purchase for $250 each), which was supposed to give me preferential seating. At first it seemed, all it gave me was preference in the line. Once they opened the doors, people were running to get to the front of the theater. (Not me or my sister, of course. We both had high heels on and weren't about to run anywhere.) Turns out, however, that the seats up close were reserved for VIP's (if you had a red or gold wrist band, you were VIP), and the vast majority of the people running to the front were told to sit elsewhere. As a result, we ended up right up front, three rows back from the orchastra pit, with an amazing up close view.
They let people in in waves, which seemed to take an inordinate amount of time. No clue why, but my guess is it had something to do with managing large crowds. And if you left (to get food/drink) you couldn't get back in until they let the next wave of people in. That was sort of irritating in the beginning, but you soon forgot all about it after the event began.
The first person to speak was Obama's head of LBGT outreach. I missed most of what he had to say because I was stuck outside (having gone to get drinks and not being let back in), but I thought it was very cool that he opened the show. Next was a local volunteer who lead is in the phone banking drill that they did in the South Carolina event. Yes, we phone banked, and I can tell you that everyone sitting around me actually called their 4 phone numbers, even though there was no incentive (like some of you have a staff number and if you call that you get a seat up front). It was very cool, but my cell phone service petered out after the first two calls I made (Sprint sucks!) The first one was a disconnected number, and the second one was to a woman who was waiting to hear from her doctor, so didn't want to talk. I connected with the third person, but my cell service dropped her, and I couldn't get service again after that.
Two rows in front of me was an actor whose name I just can't remember. Old dude now, you would recognize him if you saw him. He spoke after the phone banking, and he was great. He said in his 80 some odd years, he's seens lots and lots of presidents and presidential candidates, many of them great ones. But none so great and so right for this moment in time as Barack Obama.
Then a latina woman who's a journalist/newscast person whose name I also can't recall gave a fabulous speech about why she's supporting Obama. Like Oprah, she had never publicly endorsed a politician before, but she felt compelled to support Obama. She said what first drew her to him was his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, where he talked about his Kenyan father and American mother. Her father was an immigrant from Mexico who married and American woman, and she felt she could immediately relate to Obama. She was a dynamic speaker and really got the crowd going.
Then Ne-Yo performed. I didn't know this band before this event. Very entertaining, and very fun. Then a couple of comedians came out (none I've heard of), and then the Goo Goo Dolls, who were just fantastic. After they performed, I was expecting another celeb to come out and introduce Obama, but, nope, the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls had that honor.
The crowd went wild!
Obama's speech was pretty much the same as the ones he gave over the weekend with Oprah, but there was one part I hadn't heard before. He joked about releasing his kindergarten records, saying something to the effect that, "I pulled girl's pigtails... and I liked it." It was pretty funny.
After his speech, he stepped down to greet people in the orchestra section, and nobody stopped me from sauntering right on down there (only a few feet away), so I was able to shake his hand (but not really talk to him).
My sister, btw, was totally moved. She even signed up to volunteer in Nevada. Now, that's something.
My sister took all the pictures, too, which is why I don't have any to post. I'll post them when I get them in some other diary when the opportunity arises.